Stop Running Away from Your Problems (and Start Running)

Picture this: It’s March, you are in the midst of midterms, group projects, essays and assignments; you are annoyed with your roommates and your landlord still has not come to fix the sink. Instead of suppressing all this frustration inside, you could be sweating out the stress to clear your mind.

Throughout university, running has been my favourite hobby to get away from the things in my life that are stressing me out. Running out of an apartment is an awesome feeling when you’re annoyed with roommates and running in the opposite direction of campus is a great way to distance yourself from campus and the related stress that our minds associate with school. Whenever I step out the door backpack-free and wearing running shoes, I feel this incredible weight literally and figuratively come off my shoulders.

You may be wondering how to start your journey to enjoy running. Here are some guidelines in no particular order:

Watch Brittney Runs a Marathon

If this overwhelming desire to start running happened to occur at 9 p.m. and you’re not comfortable running in the dark (valid!), you should watch Brittney Runs a Marathon on Amazon Prime. The movie tells the true story of a woman living in New York who has decided to take up running as a way to be healthier. She ends up realigning her goals, increasing her confidence and pushing her own limits. It’s a relatively accurate portrayal of training for a distance race – complete with self-doubt, new friendships and feelings of accomplishment.

Find the nearest trails

Spring is COMING and outdoor running is starting to make a safe comeback!

Before you swear off running because you’ve only run on a treadmill, try running outside. Use running as an excuse to explore the city. Click here for a map of the trails in Waterloo – these trails can be seen on Google Maps as well if you’re lost mid-run. I would suggest going to Waterloo Park which is less than a block from the Laurier library, and you can circle around the park as much as you’re comfortable. There are plenty of dogs to distract you from any cramps or leg pain.

Learn proper running form

I feel like a high school gym teacher saying this, but good form is important. Having proper running technique and breathing techniques will reduce pain and stomach cramps. You can watch a YouTube video, or follow running accounts on Instagram for tips. I would recommend the tips that Kim gives on Instagram.

Get into a routine

Before you put your running shoes on and go out the door, do a few stretches and your body will thank you. More importantly, give yourself a few minutes to stretch when you finish a run – I had to learn this lesson the hard way in second year.

Don’t feel the need to go out and buy supplies all at once

PLEASE do not go out and buy brand new running shoes, workout clothing, running accessories like handheld water bottles and race fees all at once.  You do not need to invest $200-400 before deciding if you even enjoy running. Take your time to build your running habit and think about which race you want to enter, or which running shoes you want to buy. If you’re looking for races, Run Waterloo offers several annual races in KW or you can search Facebook events to find nearby races.

Ultimately, the best way to start running is quite literally by putting on your running shoes, finding a podcast or playlist and going out the door. Your run doesn’t have to feel like gym class – go at a pace you’re comfortable with and run in places or with people who make you feel happy. If you get too tired you can turn around and come home, but at the very least, like Brittany, you can say “I ran today” and no one can take that away from you.

No matter your running speed, you are lapping everyone on the couch. Happy spring running season!